Exchange nailing for nonunion of diaphyseal fractures of the tibia: our results and an analysis of the risk factors for failure

Jerry Tsang, L A Mills, J Frantzias, J P Baren, J F Keating, Hamish Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

AIMS: The aim of this study was to identify risk factors for the failure of exchange nailing in nonunion of tibial diaphyseal fractures.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: A cohort of 102 tibial diaphyseal nonunions in 101 patients with a mean age of 36.9 years (15 to 74) were treated between January 1992 and December 2012 by exchange nailing. Of which 33 (32%) were initially open injuries. The median time from primary fixation to exchange nailing was 6.5 months (interquartile range (IQR) 4.3 to 9.8 months). The main outcome measures were union, number of secondary fixation procedures required to achieve union and time to union. Univariate analysis and multiple regression were used to identify risk factors for failure to achieve union.

RESULTS: Multiple causes for the primary nonunion were found for 28 (27%) tibiae, with infection present in 32 (31%). Six patients were lost to follow-up. Further surgical procedures were required in 35 (36%) nonunions. Other fixation modalities were required in five fractures. A single nail exchange procedure achieved union in 60/96 (63%) of all nonunions. Only 11 out of 31 infected nonunions (35.4%) healed after one exchange nail procedure. Up to five repeated exchange nailings, with or without bone grafting, ultimately achieved union in 89 (93%) fractures. The median time to union after exchange nailing was 8.7 months (IQR 5.7 to 14.0 months). Univariate analysis confirmed that an oligotrophic/atrophic pattern of nonunion (p = 0.002), a bone gap of 5 mm or more (p = 0.04) and infection (p < 0.001), were predictive for failure of exchange nailing Multiple regression analysis found that infection was the strongest predictor of failure (p < 0.001).

CONCLUSION: Exchange nailing is an effective treatment for aseptic tibial diaphyseal nonunion. However, in the presence of severe infection with a highly resistant organism, or extensive sclerosis of the bone, other fixation modalities, such as Ilizarov treatment, should be considered.

TAKE HOME MESSAGE: Exchange nailing is an effective treatment for aseptic tibial diaphyseal nonunion. Cite this article: Bone Joint J 2016;98-B:534-41.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-41
Number of pages8
JournalBone and Joint Journal
Volume98-B
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Exchange nailing for nonunion of diaphyseal fractures of the tibia: our results and an analysis of the risk factors for failure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this